Of the 147 elementary and middle schools within Kane and McHenry counties, 92 schools saw declines in standardized test scores reflected on the 2017 Illinois School Report Card released Tuesday.
Among those schools, 53 showed improvement while two remained flat on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test, or PARCC, given to third- through eighth-graders. State education officials say those numbers could update later in the week.
Local educators were not alarmed by the results.
"We don't place a lot of emphasis on PARCC, and not because it's a bad measure; ... it's just not timely for us," said Brad Newkirk, chief academic officer for Batavia Unit District 101.
Its elementary and middle schools' scores declined from last year -- ranging from 1.2 to 9.3 percentage points lower.
Yet, Newkirk says, the timing of the report card data release comes well after those students tested last spring have moved on to the next grade level to benefit from potential interventions.
"It's not actionable data," Newkirk said. "If we just relied on this, we would be doing our kids a disservice because it lags so much. Our parents trust the more regular assessment data that the district has and provides them in a timely manner. We use our own internal metrics in order to regularly assess our students and identify areas where more support is needed."
|2017 Illinois School Report Cards: Find all the vital data for your school and district, plus lists of the top schools in the state. Click here for 2017 school report cards.|
The standardized test is "probably the least applicable measure for a classroom teacher," said Laura Hill, Elgin Area School District U-46 director of assessment and accountability.
In U-46, 36 elementary and middle schools showed declines in the percentage of students meeting and exceeding proficiency standards, while 12 schools showed increases. As a district, 27.9 percent of students are meeting and exceeding standards -- a 1.3-percentage-point dip.
U-46 is the state's second-largest school district, educating just shy of 40,000 students. A majority are minorities from low-income backgrounds.
The biggest decline was at Prairieview Elementary School in Bartlett -- 15.5 percentage points. Prairieview also saw a 4.9-percentage-point increase in students within the approaching-standards category, which suggests more students could be sliding in performance.
The largest improvement within U-46 and among Fox Valley area schools was at Sunnydale Elementary School in Streamwood -- 12.5 percentage points. Sunnydale also saw a 9.4-percentage-point dip in students in the approaching category, which might explain why more students are meeting standards there.
Officials couldn't explain the dips and increases from year to year, but say a contributing factor could be that the state this year is reporting scores based on where specific groups of students -- such as special education, gifted or dual language -- receive special instruction, rather than their home schools. Statewide, 3 percent of students fit into this category.
That skews scores for schools like Sunnydale, which serves more gifted students from neighboring schools, said Matthew Raimondi, U-46 coordinator of assessment and accountability.
"It could be nothing different is happening there," Raimondi said. "We have a lot of students who don't attend home schools."
Due to that change, U-46 had 13 elementary schools and three middle schools that performed higher than expected, he said.
Last school year was the second year PARCC was administered entirely online, which some educators say could have affected scores.
"The online assessment is more rigorous than the paper and pencil version," Community Unit District 300 Superintendent Fred Heid said. "As a district, we saw ELA (English language arts) go up and math tick down slightly."
Of the Carpentersville-based district's 22 elementary and middle schools, 11 saw declining scores; the largest decrease was at Kenneth Neubert Elementary School in Algonquin at 12.7 percentage points. Gilberts Elementary School saw the largest increase in meets/exceeds -- 6.7 percentage points.
In high schools, juniors took the revised SAT college entrance exam last school year after the state stopped paying for the traditional ACT.
Of the 23 Fox Valley high schools, 16 scored above the state average of 38 percent meeting and exceeding standards on the SAT. Thirteen schools had a higher percentage of students approaching proficiency than the state average of 35 percent.